Nora used to struggle to cope with the pain of osteoarthritis. Her muscles and joints had become stiffer and more painful, making it harder to enjoy interests like jam-making, gardening and art classes. Nora decided it was time to make some changes to push back against the negative impact arthritis was having on her life.
Nora says: "Thanks to the small changes I’ve made, I feel like I’m back in control."
After taking advice from healthcare professionals and doing online research, Nora started an exercise routine that worked for her, incorporating Pilates, low-impact exercise on a cross-trainer or a bike and swimming. Nora explains: "I was also lucky enough to be part of a study for the Trust Me, I’m A Doctor TV series. The show’s experts gave me a series of exercises designed to strengthen my thighs, helping my knees and back, and my forearms, to help my arms and wrists.
"I don’t need to go to the gym to do them, they’re great because they fit into everyday life. I lie on the floor and watch TV while I do the leg exercises and I can work on my hands while I have a friend around for tea. I also work some of the stretching into jobs around the house like ironing.
"I’m feeling the benefits of exercise in so many ways. I actually feel taller, as I'm not stooping over now! Since I’ve been exercising I can manage without painkillers. Medication always made me feel rotten, really sluggish, so not only is my body getting the wider benefit of keeping active, I don’t have to deal with the side-effects of my tablets."
Looking out for trigger spots
Another small change Nora has made is looking out for trigger spots for everyday pain and working out ways to manage them. She says: "If I do a repetitive job for too long, I get muscle aches in my back and shoulders. I stop what I’m doing, and then stretch, exercise or just rest.
"It can happen when I’m stirring some cake mixture or I’m driving and the journey takes longer than it should. I can get very stiff and achy, but by planning, resting and breaking things down into manageable chunks I find I can manage my pain.
"Though I'm a positive person, there are days when all I want is to be able to go out and do something fast! Arthritis affects the speed I can do most things and this sometimes gets me down. At the beginning of this year I felt I was on the road to slowing down for good, but by making small changes I feel I’ve kept that at bay for longer.
"My advice to anyone with arthritis is to keep moving. I know everyone says that but take it from me I’ve seen such positive changes in my life since I’ve been exercising. It’s the small things you notice that make the biggest difference to how you feel. For the first time in years I’m able to make jam from the fruit I grow in my garden without taking medication. That means the world to me."